Reliable rail starts with good design: Khaw Boon Wan

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in a blog post that a reliable rail system is one that is easy to build, maintain and operate.
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in a blog post that a reliable rail system is one that is easy to build, maintain and operate.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A reliable rail system starts at the design stage, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan has written in his latest blog post.

"As an engineer, I subscribe to the mantra that 'a good design is easy to build, maintain and operate'," he wrote.

A trained engineer, the minister said a complex system like Singapore's rail network requires "a tightly integrated approach to achieve optimal results".

"All parties involved in the different stages - design, build, operate, maintain - must work closely together," he added. "For example, the designer must appreciate the operational complications and learn from them, so that his future designs can address these issues.

"The rail industry structure must promote and facilitate such an integrated approach."

In the current structure, the Land Transport Authority tenders out the design and construction of MRT lines to engineering and construction companies. Upon completion, the line is handed over to the operator, who is also tasked with keeping the system in good running order.

Weak design seems to have played a role in some recent breakdowns.

"There is room to improve the integration in the current MRT industry structure, with the regulator, designer and builder, working even more closely with the operator and maintainer," Mr Khaw wrote.

"We will have to consider whether to rework the structure or perhaps implement new processes to realise the ideal outcome. This is a strategic issue which we are currently thinking through."

Read the full blog post here